NICEVILLE, FLA. — McNeese shot a sizzling 65.5 percent from the floor in the second half, rallying to earn a 71-59 victory past St. Francis Brooklyn in the second round of the Emerald Coast Classic Friday at Raider Arena on the campus of Northwest Florida State College.
Seven-foot 1-inch junior center Brendan Medley-Bacon led a balanced McNeese attack with 21 points, including 12 in the first half. He also had eight rebounds, three blocked shots, two steals and two assists.
Guard Michael Cubbage paced St. Francis Brooklyn with 19 points. The Terriers slipped to 0-5 on the season
“It was a great second half for us,” said McNeese coach John Aiken, whose team improved to 3-3. “The Emerald Coast Classic is a great event and we are blessed to be here. Now we have to take care of business.”
McNeese rallied from a double-digit deficit in the first half.
Guard Bahaide Haidara scored four points to trigger a 9-0 run that enabled St. Francis Brooklyn to turn a 10-7 lead into a 19-7 advantage.
“I thought we started out pressing a little bit in the first half,” Aiken added. “We only scored 24 points and were struggling. It was dictating how we felt about things. In the second half, I challenged them. If you are worried about your offense, change your mentality to the defensive side. In the second half, I felt like we dominated the game defensively and allowed us to be good on offense. We pounded the ball inside and it was good to see some production.”
The Cowboys grabbed their first lead of the game at 34-33 on a layup by Kellon Taylor with 16:15 left in the game.
Taylor finished with 15 points, while guard Myles Lewis chipped in with 14 and TJ Moss came off the bench to collect 10.
McNeese shot 48.3 percent from the floor, making 29 of 60 shots. St. Francis Brooklyn hit 40.8 percent from the field (20-49).
McNeese also outrebounded St. Francis Brooklyn, 36-29.
McNeese will face the winner of the Samford-North Carolina A&T game at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.